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Definition of Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing is using the power of an audience to achieve something. Common examples of this are crowdsourcing funding (crowdfunding) for a good idea, or crowdsourcing input on how to solve a common problem.
The most famous example of crowdsourcing in action is Wikipedia. A website that allows its users to create entire pages to share their knowledge of the most niche subjects with the overall goal of building the most elaborate encyclopaedia ever. This approach can also be used to develop many ideas while tapping into the broad knowledge of an audience.
This year, US college MIT used crowdsourcing to collect data on the Floridian regions that were worst affected by the devastation and subsequent flooding caused by Hurricane Irma. Named ‘RiskMap’, the project invited residents to share their location and an image of the flooding around them along with a description of the situation, which can be submitted through various social avenues which automatically update the map’s coverage with the aim of aiding relief efforts.
Significantly, crowdsourcing is also used to generate funding for popular ideas and concepts. Crowdfunding is a great way of not only financing your project, but charting whether or not you have an audience for the finished product – the more crowdfunding you receive, the more likely your idea is to be a success.
Crowdsourcing can also be used for more nuanced tasks – like if you’re on the lookout for a new business logo design, you can offer a competition inviting members of your audience to make a design, where the most popular creation wins the designer $100. You can also crowdsource microtasks. In 2011, The Guardian opted to crowdsource readers to examine the release of 24,000 pages of emails from the former US Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. The newspaper saw the emails as a primary opportunity to break a news story and so enlisted users to dip into the masses of documents online and flag anything that may appear newsworthy. This can be applied to businesses too for long-winded tasks, for example, you can crowdsource the captioning of masses of images on a gallery within your blog, and so on.
There are great benefits to crowdsourcing information and help – with a large number of individuals involve acting as a control group for your ideas. By using it, you also increase your chances of gaining quality input, whether it be through inviting your audience to produce work or designs, or by using their collective knowledge set. However there is a risk that your invitation for work is misinterpreted, you could end up with 100 pieces of input for a task that doesn’t correspond with your vision. Remember that your audience won’t have the same understanding of your intentions as you.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to utilise crowdsourcing. By allowing large quantities of people to provide input for tasks, the chances are you’ll get some quality content out of it, but make sure your instructions aren’t open to misinterpretation, and be prepared to regulate the results.
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